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Suella Braverman accused of being 'sock puppet' for Tory right and fuelling rebellion against her own migrant plan
27 March 2023, 06:42 | Updated: 27 March 2023, 08:37
Suella Braverman has been accused of being a "sock puppet" for the right wing of the Conservative party, who are demanding that she strengthen measures to handle the small boat crisis.
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The home secretary met backbench rebels on the right of her party over the weekend and reportedly told them she will strengthen the government's migration bill to allow ministers to ignore European judges' rulings on deportations.
Led by Boris Johnson's former political secretary Danny Kruger, the 50 or so potential opponents of the Illegal Migration Bill have asked for numerous added clauses to the law.
They include allowing ministers to flout European legal advice, bar migrants from protections under Britain's domestic human rights laws and more restrictions to filing appeals, according to The Times.
Ms Braverman has now promised the rebels that she will consider their concerns before the bill becomes law, it reported, in return for them not adding amendments to the legislation this week.
But some within the government have claimed that Ms Braverman is working with the backbench rebels to force ministers to strengthen the migrants bill and put pressure on Rishi Sunak.
“She wants to use it to spook us to offer concessions to get them to drop their amendments because a big rebellion would be embarrassing,” a source told the Times. “She has basically become a sock puppet for the right.”
A source close to Ms Braverman denied the claim and said it was a "scurrilous" rumour.
Meanwhile government legal advisers reportedly oppose the plan, while attorney general Victoria Prentis is said to be concerned it would break international law.
Not a single migrant has been sent to Rwanda for offshore processing since the government announced its flagship migrant policy almost one year ago.
The government is also thought to be working with the UN's refugee agency to create a safe route for 20,000 migrants each year.
Meanwhile centrist Tory rebels led by Tim Loughton are said to be working with Labour on proposing an amendment to the bill, the Telegraph reported.
The Illegal Migration Bill will return to the House of Commons on Monday and will be formally unveiled by Ms Braverman in the coming days.
Mr Kruger told the newspaper: “We are hopeful that the Government will see the sense of further strengthening the Bill, and we are hoping that is what we will get from Suella Braverman at the dispatch box.”
One source told The Times that Ms Braverman had delayed publishing the bill until concerns were addressed, while another denied that she was sympathetic to the rebels' cause.
A government spokesperson said: “The prime minister and the home secretary have worked tirelessly together to come up with a bill that does what’s necessary to stop the boats while complying with international law.
"We do not believe it is necessary to leave the ECHR to stop the boats, and have constructed the legislation carefully [...] to ensure we can get flights off to Rwanda as soon as possible.”
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